Miracle baby saved from collapsed Mumbai building as death toll climbs to 28

At least 28 die in latest building collapse in Mumbai

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 September, 2013, 1:58pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 September, 2013, 3:29pm

The death toll from the collapse of a five-storey apartment block in India's financial hub Mumbai rose to 28, a senior official at the rescue site said on Saturday.

Alok Avasthy of the National Disaster Management Authority said in a text message there were "28 dead", while local media reported more people were believed pinned beneath the rubble.

The Press Trust of India, the national news agency, quoted an unnamed official as saying, "More persons are feared trapped under the debris."

Earlier rescuers had pulled a baby alive from the rubble of a building 11 hours after it collapsed. A cheer went up from hundreds of onlookers as rescuers brought the baby out of a small tunnel in the rubble, the 25th person to be rescued from the flattened five-storey apartment building.

It was unclear how many victims remained under the wreckage, but local officials said 22 families had been housed in the block owned by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai in the city's eastern suburbs.

Rescue workers scrambled to find survivors amid the debris of the flattened block, owned by the city's civic administrative body, the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, in the east of the city.

The residential block collapsed at dawn Friday - marking the latest building disaster to hit the city and surrounding area.

By Friday night, rescue workers had managed to pull out nearly 50 survivors from the debris of the flattened block.

"My heart is thumping with fear. I'm just hoping," said tearful housewife Shanta Makwana, whose daughter and grandchildren were trapped inside the building.

Several diggers were pressed into action to lift some of the larger slabs of concrete, allowing teams of rescuers to begin the task of taking out bodies and searching for those still alive.

One woman was removed covered in dark red patterned cloth and carried to a waiting ambulance on a stretcher. Crowds of women waiting nearby could be heard sobbing.

A crushed teddy bear and a dismantled gas stove were among the items poking out from the rubble.

Local politician Bhai Jagtap said that 22 families lived in the destroyed block.

"The rest of the people are down below, calling people from inside. Rescuers are doing their level best to save lives," he said after visiting the scene.

The Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai said that the building was for employees of the local administration and their families, who had been asked to leave earlier this year.

"The building was around 30 years old. We had issued a notice to them in April to vacate the building, but they did not act," Khabale-Patil said.

He did not explain why the families had been asked to leave.

"My uncle and aunt have been staying here for years. I rushed here after hearing the news on TV. But the police are not telling us anything. We are just waiting," said receptionist Neha Jagdale.

Five other blocks have collapsed in or close to Mumbai in recent months, including one in April that killed 74 people.

Two builders and seven others were arrested in connection with the April collapse of the unauthorised and partly finished building.

Three buildings caved in around Mumbai in the month of June alone, killing 25 people between them.

The incidents have highlighted poor quality construction and violations of the building code, caused by massive demand for housing and endemic corruption.

The high cost of property in Mumbai and surrounding areas pushes many low-paid families into often illegal and shoddily-built homes.

More than half of the city's residents live in slums, while across India the urban housing shortage was estimated at nearly 19 million households in 2012.

Additional reporting by Associated Press